NLA London Awards 2013 Winners - Overall Winners

Friday 30 August 2013

The Hayes Primary School © Kilian O'Sullivan

View along New North Street looking towards Windmill and Springwater extensions © Avanti

The designers of two separate award-winning schemes, both with major impacts on London’s social and built fabric, talked through their projects at the NLA this morning.

Nick Hayhurst, director of Hayhurst and Co, gave a talk on his practice’s NLA overall award-winning Hayes Primary School scheme, an innovative £2.7m addition to an existing school in the London borough of Croydon, a borough which has one of the severest shortfall of school places in the country. And the team behind the other main NLA award winner pushing through the Tybalds Estate regeneration – Camden’s Lisa O’Hagan, Tibbalds’ Hilary Satchwell, Mae Architects’ Alex Ely and Avanti Architects’ Adrian Miles –  demonstrated how the project has scored through its collaborative approach and through attempting to ‘knit together’ this neglected corner of Bloomsbury.

Hayhurst said that although most of the ‘chat’ has been around the shortfall in primary school places, shortfalls for older children are just as bad. ‘Just wait’, he warned. The Hayes scheme, though, provides new space for 105 more pupils as well as helping to regenerate the existing, adding a new frontage and entrance to the building (‘the head is convinced it was built the wrong way round’), with better circulation as a result. All the new classrooms have access to outside spaces, and Hayhurst’s team developed innovative 650mm thick timber storage walls, a blackboard wall, a courtyard space and back corridors with a view out to the landscape beyond. Hayhurst commended the ‘incredibly devoted and supportive school’ and the important input of the ‘absolute saviours’ at Croydon’s Urban Design Team. He added that around 60 of the children had written letters of support for the project to the planners, one of them praising how the school’s steel brise soleil screen frontage ‘reflects the bees and grass like a mini forest’.

Camden’s senior development manager Lisa O’Hagan said the project to rejuvenate the Tybalds Estate was a collaborative process started from the local authority’s community investment programme. The brief was to regenerate what is a low quality public realm, and inspire and lift the estate, with social housing through new build and conversion of underused spaces, all without any demolition of existing homes.

Tibbalds Planning and Urban design director Hilary Satchwell (‘If a project has your name on it, just do it’) said that Avanti was asked to provide the extensions and interventions to existing blocks, Duggan Morris and Mae collaborated on the new build blocks and mews and Camlins worked on the landscape architecture. The estate includes 390 existing homes across 9 blocks, 20 per cent of which are owned by leaseholders. But the site has a ‘not entirely comfortable relationship with its surroundings’, being ‘dysfunctional in its context’ and does not work in the way that most London areas aspire to. To rectify that, the masterplan proposes many small-scale interventions, with 93 new homes, 63 of which are affordable, including side extensions, new homes at roof level, mews, and terraces.

Alex Ely of Mae Architects said that what was effectively an ‘arranged marriage’ with Duggan Morris was working seamlessly, with the architects and masterplanners ‘becoming their own design review panel’. ‘There is a great opportunity here to use architecture and new interventions to stitch together fragmented neighbourhoods’, he said.  Camden had shown a commitment to good architecture as an enlightened landlord, he added.

Finally, Avanti Architects Associate Adrian Miles described how the designers had arrived at a limited palette of materials including a grey brown brick which works with the existing estate - but which helps to create a scheme where the new additions are not readily apparent. 

David Taylor, New London Quarterly

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